Arena moves forward; PJCS downsized

UofL Athletic Director Tom Jurich announced Thursday that club seats are now on sale for the new downtown arena, which is slated for completion in 2010. Jurich also updated the progress on expansion to PJCS, which will be downsized because of cost increases in the past twelve months. (Artistic renderings of the new arena and PJCS loge suite included)

The University of Louisville announced Thursday plans to begin sales of lower-level, side-court club seats in the new Louisville Downtown Arena, scheduled to open in November of 2010.

The new arena will have seating of 22,000, though the club seats now on sale account for only about 2,000 total seats in the arena. UofL officials gave no set price for club seating, stating that they would be based on several factors, including priority points and would be determined on an individual basis.

Those who buy club seats will have access to an exclusive lounge beneath the stands at court level, as well as premium parking privileges. Cardinal fans with club seats will also have the first opportunity to purchase tickets to other events, including other sporting events, family shows and concerts.

On another front, UofL official Gary Friedman, who is in charge of external affairs, stated that 3/4 of the suites in the new arena have already been sold.

Friedman also stated that the full transition seating plan from Freedom Hall to the new arena for current season ticket holders would likely be presented sometime later in the fall. That plan, according to Friedman, is being put together by a 19-member committee made up of current donors and season ticket holders and others.

Jim Host, head of the Arena Authority, said that the implosion of the Humana building on the property where the arena will be constructed will be announced soon. He said the Arena Authority will legally take possession of the site in July or August 2008."You will see a lot of things happening after the implosion of the Humana building," Host stated.

Host also said that three companies are involved in discussions for naming rights of the new facility. "We've had some new offers," Host said. Host did not name any of the companies involved in those discussions.

Host said the new arena, which will be designed by PCSports, will be modeled on the Charlotte Bobcats arena. Host and Tom Jurich visited the Charlotte Arena in March when Louisville played two games in the facility during the NCAA Tournament and came away impressed with the building.

"We all agreed it was the best arena we've seen," Host said. "I'm convinced we'll have the finest facility in the country - it will certainly be the best college arena in the country."

"It was very cutting edge," Jurich said of the Charlotte Arena. "Except for where the game was being played all the feedback I got was that it was a great venue."

Louisville's arena will cost $249 million with $360 million in bonds issued to pay for the construction. Host said the arena would be paid for over 30 years at a cost of $602 million.

"We hope to continue to drive that price down with better management," said Host. "We have a fixed maximum price of $249 million that can not be exceeded."

The university's financial commitment will rise sharply in the new arena. Where UofL pays $1 million per year to play in Freedom Hall, that annual assessment will raise more than $4-5 million in the new arena.

Once built, Host said the new venue will court several NCAA Tournament events. Along those lines, UofL has agreed to forgo NCAA ticket sales revenues in the new facility to help lure future NCAA events, though the university would share concession revenue.

"We will build this arena to NCAA specs," said Host. "We have every reason to expect it will attract NCAA events."

"We will bid on everything," Jurich said. "The NCAA has their fingerprints all over this new arena."

PJCS Expansion News
Because of the one year delay created by the Kentucky General Assembly, UofL athletic director Tom Jurich announced Thursday that the price of expansion to PJCS has increased about $10 million from its original cost estimate.

That increase means that UofL will have to downsize their planned expansion from 62,000 seats to a projected 56,500 seats now.

Jurich said that suite sales are going well, stating that 30-35 of the 45 new suites in the expanded PJCS are already committed.

After getting the go-ahead from the state two weeks ago, construction bids have now been let and are due back on July 17. Construction is scheduled to begin this August.

The project will be completed for the start of the 2010 season-opener.

Artistic renderings of the new loge suite section at PJCS:

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